I am in my second decade as a board member on several companies. It doesn't happen often in the VC business, at least my VC business, because I get off the boards of companies that go public or are headed there shortly. The percentage of portfolio companies that don't shut down, sell, or go public within a decade of their initial VC investment is low. But the ones that make it into their second decade without an exit are special in many ways. They have staying power, an ability to evolve and grow, and a culture that is built to last.
The company in that group that this community is most familiar with is Return Path. Executives from Return Path, including its founder and CEO Matt Blumberg, have written guest posts here a few times. Return Path has reinvented itself three or four times in its history. And yesterday they did it again. They are now the global leader in email intelligence. They actually have been that for quite a while. But they gave themselves that label yesterday.
What is email intelligence? Well in Matt's words, it is:
[Emailers] are struggling with two core problems that complicate their decision making: They have access to so much data, they can’t possibly analyze it fast enough or thoroughly enough to benefit from it; and too often they don’t have access to the data they really need.
Meanwhile they face new challenges in addition to the ones email marketers have been battling for years. It’s still hard to get to the inbox, and even to monitor how much mail isn’t getting there. It’s still hard to protect brands and their customers from phishing and spoofing, and even to see when mail streams are under attack. And it’s still hard to see engagement measurements, even as they become more important to marketing performance.
Our solution to these problems is email intelligence. Email intelligence is the combination of data from across the email ecosystem, analytics that make it accessible and manageable, and insight that makes it actionable.
In connection with the new reformation of their company's mission and position in the market, Return Path launched or relaunched three products yesterday. The one that is truly groundbreaking in my opinion is called Inbox Insight. Think of its as ComScore for Email. If you want to know how your mail is doing compared to your competitors across a number of key metrics like engagement, inbox placement, spam complaint rates, etc, you can learn all of that and more with Inbox Insight.
Starting, building, and running companies is hard work. I know this because I see it in the eyes and wrinkles of the people I work with every day. But building a lasting, evolving, growing, and market leading company is a terrific feat. I want to congratulate Matt and the team at Return Path, most of whom have been there as long as I have, on a big day yesterday and a great new tagline, mission, and market position. Well done.